December 26, 2013
The news of Department of Energy (DoE) Secretary Jericho Petilla tendering his resignation in the wake of failure to meet his self-imposed deadline in bringing back electricity to areas ravaged by typhoon Yolanda is all over the air. Whether the President will accept his resignation or not can be part of a ploy. But nevertheless, Petilla had the guts to place his head on the chopping board.
We wonder, however, if other inept officials in the energy family – particularly Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairperson Zenaida Ducut and Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) head Mel Ocampo can do the same.
Petilla who heads the DoE is equally responsible for the government’s failure to stop the P4.15/kWh rate increase imposed by Meralco. But Ducut and Ocampo who are in the frontline and supposed to be the first persons to detect market failure and protect consumers' welfare stood idle before the coming tsunami of power hikes. They therefore should go.
Truth is, throughout their tenures, they have consistently failed to discharge their duties of regulating the power industry properly. The latest fiasco is just the culmination of years of ineptitude and incompetence.
As early as 2012, they were aware of scheduled maintenance shutdown and yet they did nothing to prevent the largest market failure in the power sector to date. In the process they unduly enriched Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to the tune of 10 billion pesos for a month’s worth of power outages!
They should go based on the principle of command responsibility. At the least, they allowed the electricity market to be gamed, and at the most, they are a party to the reported collusion among power firms.
Ducut and Ocampo should be investigated for possible charges of economic sabotage.
It’s also the time for the regime of Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to go.